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Famous Poets:

  bullet   Maya Angelou
  bullet   Matthew Arnold
  bullet   Elizabeth Bishop
  bullet   William Blake
  bullet   Anne Bradstreet
  bullet   The Brontė Sisters
  bullet   Robert Browning
  bullet   Lord Byron
  bullet   Lewis Carroll
  bullet   E. E. Cummings
  bullet   Samuel Daniel
  bullet   Emily Dickinson
  bullet   T. S. Eliot
  bullet   Ralph Waldo Emerson
  bullet   Eugene Field
  bullet   Robert Frost
  bullet   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  bullet   Ernest Hemingway
  bullet   Langston Hughes
  bullet   James Joyce
  bullet   John Keats
  bullet   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  bullet   Sylvia Plath
  bullet   Edgar Allan Poe
  bullet   William Shakespeare
  bullet   Percy Bysshe Shelley
  bullet   Robert Louis Stevenson
  bullet   Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  bullet   Dylan Thomas
  bullet   Walt Whitman
  bullet   William Wordsworth
  bullet   William Butler Yeats

William Blake

Born: November 28, 1757 // Died: August 12, 1827

William Blake William Blake was born in London, Nov. 28th, 1757. He was the first of the great English Romantic poets. Largely self-taught, he began writing poetry when he was twelve and was apprenticed to a London engraver at the age of fourteen. His poetry and visual art are inextricably linked. To fully appreciate one you must see it in context with the other. Blake is frequently referred to as a mystic, but this is not really accurate. He deliberately wrote in the style of the Hebrew prophets and apocalyptic writers. He envisioned his works as expressions of prophecy, following in the footsteps (or, more precisely strapping on the sandals) of Elijah and Milton. In fact, he clearly believed himself to be the living embodiment of the spirit of Milton.

  William Blake's Poetry: (click on a title to read a poem)
  The Tyger   London   The Sick Rose
  The Lamb   Ah! Sun-flower   Hear of the Voice of the...
  Never Seek to Tell Thy...   How Sweet I Roam'd from...   And Did Those Feet in...
  The Little Black Boy   The Little Vagabond   To the Muses

The Tyger
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart,
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every black'ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

The Sick Rose
O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy

The Lamb
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb.
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

Ah! Sun-flower
Ah, Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done:

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

Hear of the Voice of the Bard
Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past and Future, sees
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word,
That walk'd among the ancient trees.

Calling the lapsed Soul
And weeping in the evening dew;
The might controll
The starry pole;
And fallen, fallen light renew!

O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass.

Turn away no more:
Why wilt thou turn away
The starry floor
The wat'ry shore
Is giv'n thee till the break of day.

Never Seek to Tell Thy Love
Never seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears--
Ah, she doth depart.

Soon as she was gone from me
A traveller came by
Silently, invisibly--
O, was no deny

How Sweet I Roam'd from Field to Field
How sweet I roam'd from field to field,
And tasted all the summer's pride,
'Till I the prince of love beheld,
Who in the sunny beams did glide!

He shew'd me lilies for my hair,
And blushing roses for my brow;
He led me through his gardens fair,
Where all his golden pleasures grow.

With sweet May dews my wings were wet,
And Ph'bus fir'd my vocal rage;
He caught me in his silken net,
And shut me in his golden cage.

He loves to sit and hear me sing,
Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
Then stretches out my golden wing,
And mocks my loss of liberty

And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

The Little Black Boy
My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white;
White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black, as if bereav'd of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree,
And sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And pointing to the east, began to say:

"Look on the rising sun: there God does live,
And gives his light, and gives his heat away;
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.

And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love;
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear,
The cloud will vanish; we shall hear his voice,
Saying: 'Come out from the grove, my love and care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' "

Thus did my mother say, and kissed me;
And thus I say to little English boy,
When I from black and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy,

I'll shade him from the heat, till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our father's knee;
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.

The Little Vagabond
Dear mother, dear mother, the church is cold,
But the ale-house is healthy and pleasant and warm;
Besides I can tell where I am used well,
Such usage in Heaven will never do well.

But if at the church they would give us some ale,
And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,
We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,
Nor ever once wish from the church to stray.

Then the parson might preach, and drink, and sing,
And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring;
And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church,
Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

And God, like a father rejoicing to see
His children as pleasant and happy as he,
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,
But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.

To the Muses
Whether on Ida's shady brow,
Or in the chambers of the East,
The chambers of the sun, that now
From ancient melody have ceas'd;

Whether in Heav'n ye wander fair,
Or the green corners of the earth,
Or the blue regions of the air,
Where the melodious winds have birth;

Whether on crystal rocks ye rove,
Beneath the bosom of the sea
Wand'ring in many a coral grove,
Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry!

How have you left the ancient love
That bards of old enjoy'd in you!
The languid strings do scarcely move!
The sound is forc'd, the notes are few!

William Blake, Songs of Experience (1794). Cf. Blake's Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman (Princeton, NJ: William Blake Trust; London: Tate Gallery, 1991-). See Vol. 2. PR 4142 B46 1991 ROBA. First Publication Date: 1794.

William Blake, Songs of Innocence (1789). Blake's Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman (Princeton, NJ: William Blake Trust; London: Tate Gallery, 1991-). See Vol. 2. PR 4142 B46 1991 ROBA. First Publication Date: 1789.

William Blake, Poems, ed. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1863).First Publication Date: 1863.

William Blake, Poetical Sketches (London, 1783.) D-10 1987 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).First Publication Date: 1783.

William Blake, Milton (1804). Blake's Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman (Princeton,NJ: William Blake Trust; London: Tate Gallery, 1991-). See Vol. 5. PR 4142 B46 1991 ROBA. First Publication Date: ca. 1808 (notwithstanding the date of publication).

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